What you need to know:
- Syombua will team up with Kenya 400m champion Mary Moraa, Joan Cherono and Gladys Musyoki in the 4x400m.
- She singled out Cherono and Musyoki for their experience.
Head coach Steven Mwaniki has distinct descriptions for Hellen Syombua -- “Supergirl” and “the Saviour”.
During the 2019 World Relay Championships in Yokohama, Syombua rescued Team Kenya on two occasions in women’s 4x400m and 4x400m mixed relay.
The 23-year-old sprinter, who holds the national 400m record, took over at first changeover from Maureen Thomas in 4x400m when Kenyan was lying sixth in the heats.
Syombua would then cruise past two runners to position four and hand to Nevian Michira who held on before giving anchor Gladys Musyoki. Kenya finished fourth, but it was not enough to make the final.
However, despite being ranked 14th overall, the performance was enough to secure Kenya an automatic place at this year’s World Relay Championships due May 1 to 2 in Silesia, Poland.
Then came the 4x400m mixed relay.
Syombua took over at the second changeover before Aron Koech anchored the team to a third place finish to qualify as the best losers to the final in a Kenya record time of 3:16.90, behind Canada (3:16.78) and Germany (3:16.85), also national records.
The final was a roller coaster affair. Kenya was lying seventh when Syombua took over from Thomas at second changeover. She would then charge past four competitors to place the team in the medal bracket. Koech, running anchor, ensured bronze, the only medal Kenya won at the championships.
“It was that simple. If it was not for Syombua, we would not have gotten an automatic place at this year’s event in 4x400m and the medal in mixed relay,” noted Mwaniki. “That is why I always call her the team's super girl or saviour.”
Mwaniki said he will be banking on Syombua, who has so far clocked a season best 53.52 seconds to perform even better in both the women’s 4x400m and mixed relay teams.
Mwaniki seemed a happy man to have what he described as his strongest sides ever in the two events.
Syombua will team up with Kenya 400m champion Mary Moraa, Joan Cherono and Gladys Musyoki in the 4x400m.
She will join Moraa, Momanyi, Eglay Nalianya, Sylvia Chesebe, William Ryan, Daniel Sanayek and Kevin Kiprotich in the mixed relay team.
“This is a good headache for any coach when you are spoilt for choice. They have been cracking good times during the relay series and weekend meetings,” said Mwaniki.
Syombua said she was ready for the task ahead and was confident that Kenya will make both finals and qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games.
“We only need to put our heads in the final and we go to Tokyo. We are focused as a team and it’s good when coaches have confidence in us,” said Syombua.
She singled out Cherono and Musyoki for their experience.
“It's all about teamwork and I am counting on every one to deliver. What pleases me is that we are all hungry to deliver,” said Syombua.